Harnessing Agriculture for Development

Publication date: 1 October 2009

This report reflects Oxfam’s emphasis on the role of sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, particularly agriculture, in reducing poverty and inequality. It also analyses the main challenges we face in the 21st century: identifying which actors have the power to promote the necessary political changes and setting out the elements of a political agenda able to strengthen an agricultural sector made up of millions of small farmers from around the world.
Harnessing Agriculture for Development is the result of a process of consultation with Oxfam teams and counterparts in 10 countries (Burkina Faso, USA, Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Tanzania) involved in developing national awareness-raising and mobilization campaigns demanding agricultural reform.

Key recommendations:

  • Investing in agriculture has the highest potential for poverty reduction and food security, and can provide the ‘spark’ that ignites a development process.
  • A new paradigm in agriculture is necessary to respond to a changing context that presents both new opportunities and risks for small farmers.
  • A wider policy agenda must go beyond the traditional agricultural policies, to create an enabling environment and reduce the vulnerability of the poor.
  • Empowering rural people is paramount to demanding effective states and gaining market power.